Friday, September 17, 2010

William Kidd - By the Camp Fire

Price Realized £15,535

signed 'W. KIDD' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20½ x 25 1/8 in. (52 x 63.7 cm.)

Possibly Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 1841, no. 298 as 'Gypsy Encampment'.

Kidd's By the Camp Fire or Gypsy Encampment is a tribute to the early narrative genre style of Sir David Wilkie. It shows an accomplished handling of light as he depicts this intimate scene replete with action and suspense. On the surface a jovial picture of gypsies and a huntsman around a warming camp fire, it is in fact a scene of deception. The seated huntsman is being duped by the female fortune-teller whilst an urchin tries to steal his game from beneath his chair. Meanwhile in the background the fiddler looks jealously at the cloaked girl to the left who appears enraptured by the new arrival. Obviously disturbed by what the young boy is whispering in his ear, whilst pointing accusingly at the huntsman, the fiddler is unaware that his belongings are being stolen from behind him by the young boy's master-thief, his face full of intent and concentration. Despite the apparent ease with which both characters are being mislead, the huntsman keeps his left hand firmly on his shotgun and his dog appears about to pounce and thus Kidd portrays the moment at which the real drama may begin and leaves us in suspense as to the outcome.

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